Movies have been around for well over a hundred years now and have since become interesting indicators of how people thought during the time of a film’s release, most fascinatingly when it comes to predictions of the future. No one has managed to accurately predict the future completely, but some have come close.
Certain filmmakers have made some wild predictions of the future in the past, such as dystopian or even apocalyptic claims on the fate of humanity. Other movies have had incredible foresight on certain technologies and trends that we experience today.
‘A Trip To The Moon’ (1902): Lunar Exploration
Though the Moon may not exactly look the same as it does in A Trip to the Moon, it is no less impressive that one of the first films ever made predicted humanity’s future of exploring space. The short film follows a group of astronomers traveling to the moon’s surface, not with a rocket but a cannon that shoots them directly into the “eye” of the moon.
Now having the foresight of what the moon looks like, it’s quite humorous to see what the imagination of people at the beginning of the 20th century had in mind for the moon’s surface. With a jungle-like landscape and no need for spacesuits or breathing apparatuses, the Moon turned out to be a lot different from the film.
‘Airplane II’ (1982): Airport Body Scanners
This spoof sequel ironically predicated the use of full-body scanners in airports several decades before it became the norm. Shown more as a background gag than an actual poignant prediction, Airplane II hit the nail on the head when it came to airport security.
The joke is rather dark in hindsight given future events but was quite funny during the time as two lax security guards allow a group of armed men to walk right through the scanner untouched while they flag down a clearly innocent old woman for having a metal watch on.
‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ (1979): Cell Phones
The Star Trek series has predicated a handful of future technologies in its long-lived run on television but none more important than the invention of the cell phone. In fact, Captain Kirk’s use of his communicator in the show was a big inspiration for Martin Cooper, the man who made the first cell phone.
In the age where almost everyone has a cell phone device in their pockets, it’s quite interesting to think that it was a sci-fi tv series that first inspired such a huge change in human culture.
‘Smart House’ (1999): Smart Homes
Who would have thought a silly Disney movie about an overbearing, artificially intelligent smart home would one day prove to be a reality? With devices like Amazon’s Alexa which can connect to the lights, temperature, and even the washer and dryer in your home Disney’s Smart House wasn’t that far off.
When a sophisticated home AI begins taking its “motherly” role too seriously it decides to take over and lock the residents inside. Now Alexa hasn’t locked anyone in their homes (yet), but the continuance of AI technology and its integration into people’s homes proves Smart House’s prediction of the future was a lot closer than first expected.
‘The Cable Guy’ (1996) Technology Integration
Jim Carrey’s cult classic sees an unstable cable man befriend and eventually stalk one of his customers. Carrey’s Chip is a disturbed loner who was “raised by television” and has some interesting ideas of the then-future.
He states that “soon every American home will integrate their television, phone, and computer!” and that “soon you’ll be able to shop from home.” as well as the idea of online gaming being able to play “Mortal Kombat with your friend in Vietnam”. It turns out Carrey’s Cable Guy wasn’t completely off his mark.
‘Hackers’ (1995): VR Headsets
Now a lot of the “tech” in Hackers can be seen as quite ridiculous now, like an animated singing virus (which is humorously referred to in another hit hacker show Mr. Robot), but there is one piece of tech that the film got right: virtual reality.
In a particular scene the film’s villain hacker, Eugene “The Plague” (Fisher Stevens), can be seen wearing a pair of goggles around his head that look very close to an Oculus Rift headset that even comes with a pair of handheld controllers.
‘Blade Runner’ (1982): Electric Billboards
No, there aren’t any realistic human-like androids roaming around (yet) nor does it rain non-stop in Los Angeles and there aren’t any flying cars, but there is one technology that exists today which was featured prominently in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner and that is electric billboards.
These may seem like nothing new now, especially if you’ve ever visited Time Square, but back in 1982 electric advertisements were still a thing of the future. Let’s just hope that’s one of the only things that Scott’s dystopian film gets right.
‘Total Recall’ (1990): Self-Driving Cars
With companies nowadays like Tesla and Uber testing out the use of self-driving cars for their services, it’s only a matter of time until the technology is open to the general population. While tech geniuses work diligently to further develop self-driving capabilities for everyone it was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall that first had the idea.
With a taxi service full of self-driving vehicles and a robot driver companion to come with it, Total Recall predicated the technology would be everywhere by 2084. It seems their prediction has proven to be true just a couple of decades earlier than they originally thought.
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968): Tablets and Video Calls
Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi magnum opus may be one of the closest times a sci-fi film has gotten right to predicting the future. Now commercial space travel may still be years away, but the predictions of other “future” inventions were dead-on. Such as the use of tablets, AI, and the ability to video call someone and see their face on a screen.
Given that this movie was made back in the 60s during the Space Race, it’s an incredible feat to have predicated so many future technologies. Lucky for us, our AI companions are not as devious and murderous as H.A.L, and let’s hope that stays the case.
‘Minority Report’ (2002): Targeted Ads
This one might be the creepiest prediction and the most poignant. In a time when your phone can hear and record everything you say to the point that somehow Facebook knows just what you wanted to buy for Christmas, it’s a little unsettling how integrated ads have become in the age of social media.
Tom Cruise’s Minority Report managed to paint a disturbing picture of just how far advertisements can go into invading your personal life. Depicting holographic ads that can single out a person in a crowd and directly tailor the ads to them, even calling out their name. It’s extremely creepy and pervasive, and it’s not all that different Amazon knowing what kind of dog food you want to buy before you type it in.
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